Tuesday, July 29

I read non-fiction too

Who woulda thunk it, two non-fiction books and one to go! And only one is required reading. For a note on Nathaniel's Philbrick's wonderful history, Mayflower, look over at St. Dunstan's Notes one of my library spots.

Wednesday, July 2

The Child and the Lorikeet

At the Oregon Zoo in Portland (accessible by rapid transit from downtown and the suburbs) a child can experience close up creatures of different species. For the city child or for any modern child who doesn't live in the country, such encounters are usually with dogs, cats, minor rodent "pets" that live in little plastic worlds, and if the child is lucky enough an Uncle Milton's Ant Farm. it doesn't take a lot of occasional encounters to let the child know that she shares the air and earth and water with other, interesting creatures.
The Lorikeet exhibit at the Portland Zoo is an outdoor enclosed habitat with double doorways to ensure that the birds stay in. In the anteroom you can buy a cup of nectar for a dollar, and then you walk into the sunny preserve with flowery areas and a path bordered with wooden railings. If you are smart and have listened to the guide (or your parent has listened and passed this wisdom along to you), you stand still by a portion of fence, rest your forearm on the railing, and hold the little cup even and steady. Then you take a deep breath and hold still and wait. Soon a brilliantly colored bird lands on the rail (or on your wrist, if you're tall enough to rest your arm on the railing), holds tight with its feet, little foreclaws and backclaws, looks at you, then bobs its head into your cup. It drinks and drinks, and you hold very still and stare at the bird with wonder.
It doesn't take a lot to make a person aware, but someone needs to create the setting or provide the opportunity -- for the child, and for the child-in-us and for everyone.

Tuesday, July 1

Red 7

Happy July 1. Mid summer, midyear. The Old Farmer's Almanac says it's Canada Day. It feels like a Canadian summer day today, a breezy gift of Aeolus and Sol, The butterfly bushes are reaching to the clouds, and bumblebees feed on the coneflowers. "The Garden Year" says this:

Hot July brings cooling showers,

Apricots and gilly-flowers.

Those days will come, but right now it's hotter in Portland, Oregon than it is here. Too nice a day to sit inside by the computer, however breezy the back porch is, where you feel you're perching in the trees, right by the blue jays. I have a friend who once lived in an apartment in Kingsport, Tennesee, a modest apartent in a modest neighborhood,. His living room had a door that opened out onto a flat rook, at tree top level. He put two chairs chairs out there, and a little side table. If you sat very still you could see birds come to the trees, warblers and others that never come down below roof level, The sunlight and wind filtered through the leaves and you were in a forest, far removed from the town just beyond on the other side of the house.

I read today of another high person brought low, a typical tawdry sex scandal -- except that oops, it was really crime, because the girls involved were underage -- having too much free time right now, I read the story and imagined the life of a man from the city -- Coney Island -- who became very wealthy and could live as he chose. What he chose was a Caribbean island and all the joys of isolation -- oh, and underage girls. The typical tawdry story. But he was interviewed as he faced moving from there to a prison. Other than the question of underage girls, and that's a deal-breaker, his life was otherwise okay -- he gave money away to worthy causes and minded his business. The thing I envied about his luxury was not the island, not the sand and sun and beaches and sunrises and sunsets (his house is on a promontory that overlooks both the Atlantic and the Caribbean), but this: he said he never went to meetings, "I don't ever have to be anywhere."

To me, that would be the best part (besides never worrying about money), never having to be anywhere. Days like that a a luxury, and this midsummer breezy lull before the hot days and back to work is to be savored. I'm on my little island.